Sorry. You guys must be getting kind of tired of trying to answer this question, but as I'm kind of strapped for cash any SW radio purchase will have to work out pretty well for me and be a keeper as I can't afford to keep buying replacement radios, so if I'm going to buy one it will need to do pretty much what I want and last me for quite a while so I want to make sure I get something that's pretty good.
I've been an SWL for around 40 years off and on. The way I like to listen is to check out the various bands to see which ones are active, pick one, then just start tuning around to try to find interesting stations. Then I'd look up the frequencies in my WRTH or Passport to try to identify the station, which for me was half the fun: trying to catch something kind of unusual. I'd change bands as some became active and others not so much due to the time of day.
My requirements (must-haves):
First, low price. I can maybe come up with $50 or so, including S&H (to the Philippines.)
Second, adequate performance. Lack of birdies and spurs, decent sensitivity and selectivity, pretty accurate frequency display, low sensitivity to local noise sources (computer, fluorescent lights) and hum from its AC power supply. So I guess that means dual-conversion with some halfway-decent filtering or DSP.
Third, pretty good build quality so it doesn't fail or start to fall apart after a few years of regular use (in the tropics where it's usually pretty warm.)
Fourth, it has to be easy to see (my eyesight isn't what it used to be, which was never that great anyway) and operate. I don't have much patience for poorly-designed ergonomics. I can get used to "interesting" quirks that have a learning curve but not something that's just a pain to try to use.
Fifth, OK audio from its speaker. I can't use earbuds due to my non-standard-size earholes (small). Buds won't stay in. I suppose I could get some over-the-ear 'phones though, but adequate audio from its speaker would still be very nice. (By adequate I mean wide-enough audio range that I can hear what someone's saying, rather than, say, hifi-quality for music.)
DSP, which would probably satisfy my performance requirements.
Digital frequency display, as like I mentioned above I like to look up the frequency to try to ID the station I'm hearing. Just an analog display would be OK though as long as the dial wasn't too crowded to make discerning the frequency difficult, and was accurate.
PLL to prevent drift, unless the particular radio is stable without it (after warming up.)
BFO for SSB capability as I occasionally like to tune in to the utes or hams if I can't find any interesting AM broadcasts, or if I'm in the mood to see what numbers stations are on the air. Lack of a BFO isn't a deal-breaker though, of course, given my limited funds.
A real tuning knob! I used to have a Sony ICF SW1 and didn't really care for just pressing an up or down button and waiting for it to chuff its way to a live station, which it would usually chuff right past so I'd have to chuff my way back to it to try to hear it. I guess I'm just old-fashioned but I like a tuning knob, so this one is a really
nice-to-have, almost a must, unless everything else about the particular radio is exceptional. Then I'd probably adjust my expectations.
MW BCB reception, FM, extra bands like aircraft, police/fire, or even LW. I'm pretty much interested in just HF.
Size, up to a point. I used to have a Sony ICF-6500W which was really a small tabletop-size, more luggable than portable, especially when full of batteries. I sure wouldn't mind having another one of those! I intend to do most if not all of my listening at home at the computer desk anyway. I don't have room for a boat anchor or anything around that size, though. (I'd make
room for a Kenwood R1000 if I could afford one!)
Bells and whistles such as station memories (I can use a logbook the old-fashioned way), alarm clocks, MP3 players, scanning ability, direct frequency entry and stuff. I doubt if I'd ever use them that much anyway, even if I had them.
Age of the radio and/or its technology, or whether it's new or used, as long as it works OK and is reliable. In fact, to get the features I want at the price I can afford I'll probably have to look for older radios anyway in hope that the latest hotshoe DSP models will drive the older-style ones' prices down, unless there's a low-cost yet decent new DSP model out there.
What do you guys/gals suggest I look for? (Probably on eBay from Chinese sellers to keep shipping costs low as many of them offer free or cheap international shipping.)
[Edit] After browsing around and reading reviews I'm kind of leaning towards a Tecsun PL-310ET as it seems to do everything I want except USB, which isn't that
big a deal. Currently around $43 on eBay with free shipping from Hong Kong. Would this be OK, or would you recommend something else?